Introduction / History Regardless of where the Ersu may have originated, it is known that they have lived in their present location for many centuries. Qiang nomads once ruled western China as far as today's Inner Mongolia. Gradually their kingdoms broke up and they migrated south and west. The present official Qiang nationality in China only represents a fraction of the original Qiang cluster of peoples. Most were assimilated by larger groups long ago.
The Ersu are officially part of the Tibetan nationality, but in the 1980s they asked the government to create a new minority, called the Xifan, and to include them under it. The authorities declined. The linguist Sun Hongkai says, "Ersu speakers at different localities have different autonyms: those living at Ganluo, Yuexi and Hanyuan call themselves Ersu, Buerzi or Ersubuerzi; those living at Shimian use Lusu, and those living at Muli, Jiulong and western Mianning Lisu. These different autonyms are dialectal variants of the same word, originally meaning 'white people'."
What are their lives like? Culturally, the Ersu have been swallowed up by the Tibetans. Almost every aspect of their lives reflects their belief in Tibetan Buddhism.
What are their beliefs? The Ersu believe they will be reincarnated when they die and will come back to the earth as a person in a higher social position if they have lived a virtuous life. They will come back as an animal if they lived a wicked life. This belief results in the Ersu having little motivation to help the afflicted among them, as suffering is considered the consequence of a person's bad karma.
There has never been a known church or Christian among the Ersu. The Border Mission of the Church of Christ in China and the American Baptists worked among the related Jiarong people until 1949, reporting 34 converts in 1934. No outreach, however, was ever undertaken to the Ersu.
What are their needs? Without the guidance of Christ, these people will be spiritually lost in this life and the life to come. They need someone to go to them as Christ-bearers.
Prayer Points Pray for the Lord to intervene in their families, calling people to his side.
Pray for loving, anointed workers.
Pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord of lords.
Pray for a church planting movement to thrive in their communities. * Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people. * Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.
A 1983 study listed 20,000 speakers of Ersu living along the lower reaches of Dadu River, in seven different counties of southern Sichuan Province in western China. The main centre of Ersu habitation could be said to be Ganluo County. (Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004)